Becoming a new dad can be stressful as there are many unknowns like adjusting to a new routine, worrying about finances, and how to care for a newborn.
Becoming a new dad can be stressful as there are many unknowns like adjusting to a new routine, worrying about finances, and how to care for a newborn.

For many couples, the transition from the honeymoon and early marriage to parenthood is difficult. It’s no secret that all relationships take work. This is no exception when you and your partner decide to have a baby. The truth is that many men experience much of the same anxiety and anticipation that women do during pregnancy.

Becoming a new dad can be stressful as there are many unknowns like adjusting to a new routine, worrying about finances, and how to care for a newborn. Each parent has a separate, important role in their child’s life. While fathers are just as important as mothers, some may be unsure of their place in their new family structure. By addressing these concerns before a baby is born, you can be most prepared. This allows you to be a source of support to your partner before, during, and after childbirth.

How to prepare for fatherhood

As a new dad, you’re preparing for the big day that you become a parent. The more involved you are, the more prepared you will be to start your parenting duties. Some ways to prepare for becoming a new dad, include:

Learning your partner’s birth plan — It's recommended that all the details of the birth plan are in writing. However, understanding the plan helps you be an advocate through the entire birthing experience.

Taking a childbirth education class — This helps you understand the entire process, which makes it less scary or stressful. A prenatal boot camp answers important questions such as the challenges of parenthood or how to care for a new baby. These informative classes help new dads learn what to expect after becoming a parent. During these classes, men learn how to care for a newborn and ways to support their partner after childbirth.

Building your own support team — While you and your partner have the support of healthcare providers and family, it’s important that you have people you can ask for advice during this transition to parenthood.

Stress associated with becoming a parent

Like other major life milestones, becoming a parent can be stressful. But, learning your sources of stress can help you address them head-on. The adjustment period from being a family of two to becoming a family of three or more may be the most stressful.

If your employer offers paternal leave, apply for benefits. You can reduce your stress by taking time to adjust to becoming a new dad before starting your normal work schedule.

A study reported three main factors that can significantly affect a new dad’s mental health and well-being during the transition to parenthood:

  • Fatherhood identity
  • Challenges of the new fatherhood role
  • Fears related to becoming a father

Connecting with your new family as a new dad

Learning ways to connect with your new family after becoming a father can help keep stress away. During your baby’s earliest days, take extra time to nurture and care for them. These first days build the important foundation of bonding between you and your child.

Kangaroo care is an integral part of the bonding experience where you hold your child skin-to-skin on your chest. This allows them to hear your heartbeat and the sound of your voice, which makes them feel protected.

When you or your partner should see a doctor for postpartum depression

Postpartum depression is much more than the blues or depression after having a child or becoming a new dad. Some common symptoms of postpartum depression include:

These symptoms can be experienced by both mothers and fathers. Paternal postpartum depression is common because — just like new mothers — new fathers experience hormonal changes after a baby is born.

Some of the most common symptoms of paternal postpartum depression in men are:

  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Distant
  • Frustration
  • Irritability

If you or your partner are experiencing signs of postpartum depression, see a medical professional right away.

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Medically Reviewed on 9/15/2021
References
Cleveland Clinic: "Yes, Postpartum Depression in Men Is Very Real."

JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports: "Mental health and wellbeing during the transition to fatherhood: a systematic review of first-time fathers' experiences."

Novant Health: "Tips and advice for new dads during labor and delivery."

NPR: "How a Prenatal 'Bootcamp' For New Dads Helps The Whole Family."

The University of Chicago Medicine: "How can fathers bond with their newborns?"